This spring brought two exciting developments for DIS’ below-40 group, the DIS40: The spring conference and the appointment of three new co-chairs.
The DIS40 spring conference was the second conference in a row fully conducted in English, with 170 participants from twelve countries, including practitioners and in-house counsel from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Peru, South Africa, Switzerland, Ukraine, USA, and the USA.
The topic of the conference was "Is this the end?! - Arbitration in the post-award stage": Apparently, a lot of things can still happen at the post-award stage: "defiant losers" may look to set-aside an unfavourable award, while "presumed winners" may have to go great lengths in order to enforce a decision in their favour.
The conference started with a gripping keynote speech by Benjamin Siino (GBS Disputes, Paris) who shared thrilling post-award war stories spanning across different continents and jurisdictions.
The keynote was followed by the first panel at the DIS40’s spring conference which went to the core of “This wasn’t right! Setting aside of arbitral awards”. In a lively discussion, Thomas Winter (Barrister at the German Federal Court of Justice, FCJ) and FCJ judge Christiane Schmaltz elaborated on the German standard for setting aside an arbitral award. Hans David Hahn (AREVA GmbH, Erlangen) shared his in-house perspective, and Catherine Anne Kunz (Lalive, Geneva) provided the Swiss law view of setting aside arbitral awards.
The second panel evolved around “When do I get my money? Recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards”, where Sofia Svinkovskaya (Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Vienna), Beatrice Van Tornout (Liederkerke, Brussels), Tobias Vollmer (Raedas, London), and Glenn Baumgarten (Deutsche Telekom, Bonn) leveraged their case stories and experiences.
In the afternoon, there were six parallel breakout session on different topics related to the post-award stage, namely rerunning arbitrations after a set-aside or refusal to enforce, publication of awards, enforcement of intra EU and ECT awards post -Achmea, enforcement and monetization of arbitral awards, parallel set-aside and enforcement proceedings, and arbitrator liability. The breakout sessions were moderated by international arbitration practitioners from different countries.
With closing of the conference, the three new co-chairs of the DIS40 were announced: Nadja Harraschain (Allen & Overy, Frankfurt), Christoph Gramlich (VINCI Energies Germany, Frankfurt), and Christian Steger (Latham & Watkins, Hamburg).
The new co-chairs replace Johanna Büstgens (Hanefeld, Hamburg), Elizabeth Hincapié (Toshiba Railway Europe, Düsseldorf) and Moritz Schmitt (rothorn legal, Frankfurt), whose three-year terms came to an end. During their term, the trio organised 15 national and international events and coordinated more than 70 DIS40 regional events. They were also responsible for the group's mentoring program.
Harraschain, Gramlich, and Steger will manage the DIS40 with the two remaining co-chairs: Evgenia Peiffer (CMS, Munich) and Alessandro Covi (Herbert Smith Freehills, Frankfurt). Peiffer and Covi have held their office since the DIS40 autumn conference in October 2021.
The new DIS40 co-chair Harraschain advises on international commercial arbitration, particularly in the energy sector. Harraschain joined Allen & Overy in 2022 after having worked with several major international law firms in Frankfurt am Main and New York in the fields of arbitration and litigation while completing her PhD in the field of investment arbitration. Gramlich, the second new co-chair, started his career working in the arbitration and litigation practices of global law firms, most recently as an associate with White & Case. He joined VINCI Energies’ in-house team in 2021 and has particular experience in IT and construction disputes. Completing the trio of new co-chairs, Steger advises on international commercial and investment arbitration. He joined Latham Watkins in 2017, after working, amongst others for the Max Planck Institute for Private Law, a major international law firm and gaining relevant ADR experience in Mumbai, India.
The DIS40 co-chairs intend to further establish the group’s international connections. The recent spring conference dealt with recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards. In this spirit, the DIS40 will host the next global Co-Chairs’ Circle conference to take place in Frankfurt in May 2024. The Co-Chairs’ Circle is a platform for the exchange amongst 30 young arbitration practitioner groups from around the globe.
Alessandro Covi, Nadja Harraschain, Christian Steger-von Förster, Evgenia Peiffer, Christoph Gramlich